The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has granted NewLeaf Symbiotics U.S. Patent No. 9,181,541 for its microbial fermentation technology. The patent covers compositions comprising Pink Pigmented Facultative Methylotrophs (PPFMs). PPFMs are beneficial bacteria that naturally colonize plants and stimulate their growth.
NewLeaf, a venture-funded non-GMO ag biological company, is developing and commercializing products that contain PPFMs and other bacteria. PPFMs will need to be fermented in vast numbers to fill demand for new and sustainable agricultural inputs. The patent discloses a breakthrough invention made by NewLeaf at its Bio Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park labs in St. Louis County, Mo., that allow the company to produce these bacteria many times more efficiently than was possible in the past.
NewLeaf chief scientist Gregg Bogosian made the invention in 2012. “NewLeaf Symbiotics needed to produce large quantities of PPFMs in a cost efficient manner when previously only small amounts had been made,” said Bogosian. “We faced a field trial deadline and could not possibly have met it unless we could increase production rates by several factors. This proprietary technology allowed us to quickly produce the required quantities, and we now use it in all production contexts.”
“This U.S. patent is foundational for us,” stated Tom Laurita, CEO of NewLeaf. “It is now clear that to meet demand for products we are planning to introduce in 2016, and those in the pipeline, we are going to require large-scale fermentation of PPFM strains. Patenting this invention means three things for NewLeaf. First, we have already seen that the method allows us to reach the scale we need. Second, this production technology puts us in a very attractive COGS position. Third, others would be discouraged from trying to compete in this space because the new method is so far superior to alternatives.”
NewLeaf is highly focused on the development of a strong portfolio of intellectual property, working closely with its IP partners Thompson Coburn LLP and McKee, Voorhees, & Sease PLC. The company has filed over 25 patents that cover a broad range of applications including methods of production and formulation, crop yield enhancement and activity against pathogens and pests.